Sir Ken Robinson was in Toronto last week as part of his role on the Advisory Board of MadCap Learning Systems, a MaRS client and ambitious new startup in our burgeoning education cluster.

Leading Canadian educators, industry leaders and government officials gathered for the early unveiling of MadCap Learning Systems by its co-founders, education guru Michael Fullan and award-winning children’s filmmaker David Devine.

A MaRS incubator tenant, MadCap creates a student-centred and teacher-partnered learning platform that integrates pedagogy, technology and change knowledge to create an engaging, easy-to-use system that is steeped in real-life problem solving.

Sir Ken’s take on the state of education

Sir Ken spoke at length about the state of education systems around the world:

“The fact is that, given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed—it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”

Recognized internationally for his leadership in the development of education, creativity and innovation, Sir Ken is best known for his wildly successful TED talks, which have been viewed over 200 million times in over 150 countries. Sir Ken’s new book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 21 languages.

Sir Ken Robinson

The MadCap team

MadCap co-founder David Devine’s films have been broadcast in over 80 countries, selling 3.2 million copies; and 500,000 of his DVDs are now being used in 20% of American elementary and middle school classrooms.

As special advisor to the premier and minister of education in Ontario, MadCap co-founder Michael Fullan has moved Ontario to better scores, more engaged teachers and better overall system performance in the past seven years.

David Devine (MadCap), Sir Ken Robinson, and Michael Fullan (MadCap)

But Michael and David have plans to go much further. Their vision for combining David’s filmmaking talent with Michael’s whole system transformation alongside world-class digital interactivity led to the creation of MadCap Learning Systems.

In Michael’s most recent book, Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge, he insists that “we should be able to double our learning at half the cost.”

More a directional statement than financial analysis, this type of bold thinking is being welcomed by the leading funders who have lined up behind MadCap, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson Publishing and education-focused investors in the United States. Add in an Advisory Board of the world’s top educators and systems reformers, including Sir Michael Barber, Sir Ken Robinson and Peter Senge, and MadCap is one of the hottest edtech startups to watch.

MaRS is committed to accelerating education-focused startups that want to create significant social and financial impact. If you’ve got a startup in this space, please reach out to us and join the education cluster.

Vicki Saunders

Vicki Saunders is a serial entrepreneur and senior advisor at MaRS. See more…